Every golf fan on the planet is well aware that the Masters Tournament badges can fetch a pretty penny. However, many people might not know that it is not just the four-day badge for the current tournament that is in high demand.
I have always been a collector of sports memorabilia, but until about 10 years ago I did not collect Masters badges. Thanks to my job, I have been fortunate enough to get some pretty cool Masters items that I will never part with, but I never really considered collecting the old badges.
As it turns out, I was missing out on a very interesting collectible market. People from all over the world collect the badges, and many have collections that run for decades.
Prior to 1961, the badges were made of paper and are tough to find in good condition. While they can go for a lot of money, many collectors focus their attention on the badges beginning in 1961. The Augusta National started making the badges out of plastic, and that makes the 1961 badge one of the most sought-after.
While age and condition certainly play a large role in determining the value of a badge, there are other variables. For instance, the winner of the tournament makes a big difference in the value. Badges from any of Jack Nicklaus’ six victories are big sellers. Also, newer badges can be valuable, such as the 1997 badge. That was the year of Tiger Woods’ record-breaking 12-shot victory.
Like our economy, prices for badges have been down in recent years. However, I am happy to report that sales of older badges have been brisk in recent weeks. The average price for the older badges seems to be back to normal levels, and in some cases they are bringing higher prices than ever before.
As a matter of fact, there was a record of sorts hit last month. On March 8, a 1963 badge, which usually sells for $350 to $700, sold for a whopping $1,500. That is even higher than the going rate for the highly coveted 1961 badge, which usually fetches $1,000 to $1,600. A 1961 badge has been up for sale on an auction site for a couple of months now, with an asking price of $2,500, but has not sold.
In that case, the asking price is a little too high, but other badges are realizing some great prices. Here are several examples of badges that have sold in the last few months, along with the price they went for:
1963 $1,500 March 8
1962 $399 (This is an active auction with nine days remaining at press time. It should bring in $700 to $1,000.)
1965 $326 Jan. 30
1966 $325 March 16
1966 $405 March 7
1986 $190 Feb. 15
1997 $197 March 7
1997 $161 March 25
The prices for the 1997 badge are actually down a little due to Woods’ off-course transgressions. The 1997 badge sold for $200 to $275 back in 2005-06.
These numbers really do not surprise me that much. Those are badges from years in which Arnold Palmer, Nicklaus and Woods donned the green jacket. I expect those badges to be in demand. However, I am floored by the amounts that some other badges have recently sold for. Here are a few examples:
1967 $239 March 15
1967 $185 Feb. 18
1967 $152 March 25
1969 $180 March 23
1969 $160 Feb. 18
2011 $167 March 19
Usually the badges from 1967-1969 sell for around $80 to $100, so to see these prices recently is a big surprise. I’m not sure if it is a good sign for the economy, or simply a high level of excitement for the tournament this year. Either way, it is good to see.
There are some great bargains out there. Recently, a 1976 badge, a record-breaking year from very popular golfer Ray Floyd, sold for just $22.50.
Here are a few tips for those who have badges they would like to sell someday:
1. Keep the badges in pristine shape. Put them in some type of holder if possible.
2. Do not detach the pin from the back of the badge.
3. It is best to sell them between March and April. Badges sell for far more when people are excited about the tournament.
Whether you plan to make a decorative hat out of your badges, make a nice frame for your home office, or you just throw them in a drawer, keep in mind that these older badges can be quite valuable.